Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

How To Replace Cat with Bat System-wide in Ubuntu 22.04

Ubuntu 18

In the world of Linux, cat has been a long-standing, reliable command used for viewing and concatenating files. However, there’s a newer, more feature-rich alternative: bat. In this article, we will guide you through the process of replacing cat with bat system-wide in Ubuntu 22.04.

Please note that it’s not recommended to directly replace the cat command due to potential compatibility issues with system scripts. Instead, we will use bat as an alternative for interactive shell sessions and as a pager.

Quick Answer

To replace cat with bat system-wide in Ubuntu 22.04, you can add an alias for cat to bat in your ~/.bashrc file and set bat as the default pager using the PAGER environment variable. However, it’s important to note that directly replacing cat may cause compatibility issues with system scripts, so it’s recommended to use bat selectively for interactive shell sessions and as a pager.

What is Bat?

Bat is a cat clone with syntax highlighting and Git integration. It supports a large number of programming and markup languages. Its main features include syntax highlighting, integration with Git to show modifications, automatic paging, and more. You can learn more about bat from its GitHub repository.

Installing Bat

Before we can use bat, we need to install it. You can install bat from the official Ubuntu repositories using the following command:

sudo apt install bat

This command uses the sudo command for root privileges, apt is the package handling utility in Ubuntu, install is the command to install a new package, and bat is the package we want to install.

Replacing Cat with Bat in Interactive Shell Sessions

To use bat instead of cat in interactive shell sessions, we will add an alias to the ~/.bashrc file. Open the file using a text editor of your choice. Here, we use nano:

nano ~/.bashrc

At the end of the file, add the following line:

alias cat="bat"

This line creates an alias that replaces cat with bat whenever you type cat in the terminal. Save and close the file. To apply the changes, either restart the terminal or run the following command:

source ~/.bashrc

Using Bat as a Pager

To use bat as a pager for commands that automatically use a pager, such as man or git, we can set the PAGER environment variable in the ~/.bashrc file. Add the following line to the file:

export PAGER=bat

This line sets the PAGER environment variable to bat, so commands that use a pager will now use bat instead. Apply the changes as before.

Handling Specific Cases

There are specific cases where the output is not piped through a pager, such as crontab -l. In these cases, you can manually pipe the output to bat to achieve the desired colorized output:

crontab -l | bat

This command pipes (|) the output of crontab -l into bat, which then displays the output with syntax highlighting.

Conclusion

Replacing cat with bat can provide a more feature-rich experience when viewing and concatenating files in Ubuntu 22.04. However, it’s important to do this selectively to avoid potential compatibility issues with system scripts. By following the steps in this article, you can enjoy the benefits of bat while maintaining the reliability of cat where it’s needed.

Can I directly replace the `cat` command with `bat` system-wide in Ubuntu 22.04?

It is not recommended to directly replace the cat command with bat system-wide in Ubuntu 22.04 due to potential compatibility issues with system scripts. It is better to use bat as an alternative for interactive shell sessions and as a pager.

How can I install `bat` in Ubuntu 22.04?

You can install bat in Ubuntu 22.04 by running the following command: sudo apt install bat. This command will install bat from the official Ubuntu repositories.

How can I use `bat` instead of `cat` in interactive shell sessions?

To use bat instead of cat in interactive shell sessions, you can add an alias to the ~/.bashrc file. Open the file using a text editor, add the line alias cat="bat" at the end, save and close the file. Then either restart the terminal or run source ~/.bashrc to apply the changes.

Can I use `bat` as a pager for commands like `man` or `git`?

Yes, you can use bat as a pager for commands like man or git. Set the PAGER environment variable in the ~/.bashrc file by adding the line export PAGER=bat. This will make commands that use a pager to use bat instead.

How can I handle specific cases where the output is not piped through a pager?

In specific cases where the output is not piped through a pager, such as crontab -l, you can manually pipe the output to bat to achieve the desired colorized output. For example, you can use the command crontab -l | bat to pipe the output of crontab -l into bat for colorized output.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *